NASA shared stunning footage of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter taking flight on the red planet a few weeks ago. Now, the agency's engineers have rendered the flight in 3D and shared a video of the same on their YouTube channel. The helicopter takes off vertically, hovers for a few seconds before zooming past our eyes to the right of the screen. It then returns and lands almost at the same spot. The agency says that seeing the sequence was almost like standing on the red planet, next to Perseverance rover, which captured the historic moment and watching the helicopter take flight first hand.
All you need, though, is 3D glasses, which can be easily made at home as well. This was made possible by Mastcam-Z imager, a zoomable dual-camera, mounted on the rover's mast, the agency said. Not only does it help the public to follow the Perseverance rover's daily discoveries but also provides crucial data to engineers to navigate and scientists to choose interesting rocks to study.
Justin Maki, an imaging scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was in charge of the team that stitched the images to give video the final shape. The frames of the video were reprojected to optimize viewing in an anaglyph, or an image seen in 3D when viewed with colour-filtered glasses, according to the agency.
Watch the video here:
“The Mastcam-Z video capability was inherited from the Mars Science Laboratory MARDI (Mars Descent Imager) camera,” Maki said, in a statement, adding, “To be reusing this capability on a new mission by acquiring a 3D video of a helicopter flying above the surface of Mars is just spectacular.” The videos of the helicopter are the most extensive 3D video yet from the Mastcam-Z team.
“A helicopter flying on Mars opens a new era for Mars exploration. It's a great demonstration of new technology for exploration,” he added. “With each flight, we open up more possibilities.”
On May 12, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory shared the 3D video on its official Twitter handle as well. The lab has 3.3 million followers on the micro-blogging site and the video left the followers stunned. Many reacted to the footage in awe.
A Twitter user, @Moredumbtweets, shared a picture of his 3D glasses that you need to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Here are some more reactions:
According to information available on the NASA website, the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter, on April 25, rose 16 feet (5 meters) and then flew downrange 164 feet (50 meters). However, that record was broken a few days later when, on April 30, the helicopter travelled 873 feet (266 meters) on its fourth flight.
On May 7, in its fifth flight, the Ingenuity completed its first one-way trip, travelling 423 feet (129 meters), then reaching an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) above its new landing field.
The success of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter on the red planet proved that a powered and controlled flight was possible on Mars. The first-ever Ingenuity flight on the red planet was described as the "Wright brothers' moment on Mars" by MiMi Aung, the project manager.